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Disease & Conditions >>> Cholesterol Articles & News

Fish Oil And Bad Cholesterol

The World's Top Anti-Aging Specialist

Doc, I've heard you say that fish oil can raise the bad cholesterol. If its BAD cholesterol, how can fish oil do so many good things for your heart, and why does the FDA say that it's a heart healthy food. Myron Williams. Brooklyn NY

This is a good question and one that bears repeating the answer to even though I've discussed this before (vol 1-3 of the newsletter).

First let's talk about BAD cholesterol, also known as LDL cholesterol.

Bad cholesterol actually comes in different "flavors" some bad and some not bad at all. The light fluffy version is generally considered not bad, and not contributory to increasing your risk of heart disease.

The heavy dense is considered deadly and very much increases your risk of heart disease.

When Fish Oil is given in high enough doses (In this case the study was using 4 grams a day) it tended to shift the type of bad cholesterol from really bad heavy dense to not bad light fluffy. Please note this in direct opposition to the people who say you should NEVER take more than 1 gram of Fish Oil a day!! All the studies I've seen show more benefit at higher doses.

The light fluffy stuff is thought to being on its way to being disposed of, and not able to participate in the inflammatory reaction that is at the core of plugging the arteries of the heart and other vitals areas such as brain, kidney, and of course the muscles usually of the legs.

Be aware that a regular cholesterol test does not tell you any of this. If you want to find out you have to get your doctor to order and "NMR" of the lipids or similar test. Also be aware that this test runs about $500.00 and is often not covered by insurance.

If I had to choose between this test and the homocysteine level or the Quantitative CRP that so many gurus are telling their readers to get, I would want this one, HANDS DOWN.

Now what about the actual rise in the "Bad Cholesterol" that is sometimes seen with high doses of Fish Oil. First the average increase is about 7%. This translates into going from say a total cholesterol of 200 to 214.

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It may disappear after 3 months in many people.

I once asked a cardiologist friend of mine , "Are you concerned about the fact that I'm sending you some people on Fish Oil, and raising their LDL's a bit?"

His answer was, " Not at all!". The main reason I asked him this question was because he has a lot of PA's and Nurse Practitioners working for him who had been writing me letters basically saying, " You are messing up what we are trying to do with statins!" OK , no I am not bad mouthing PA's and Nurse Practitioners, I am just telling you what actually happens.

The rest of his answer was even more telling. He told me he knew all about the GISSI trial where Omega 3's basically mopped the floor with statins as far as overall heart attack rate and total death rate. He told me in this case, he didn't care about the numbers, he cared about the results.

Man do I wish there were more doctors like him! Bob if you are out there and reading this "Thank you"!!

What was interesting was that neither of us were quite sure at the time why there was any rise at all in LDL cholesterol, even thought we were both satisfied that it was not harmful.

Well basically I came across the answer a bit later in my reading. In some people it appears that fish Oil actually decreases the LDL receptors on cells.

This translates into making them inert particles that are floating around harmlessly waiting to be excreted in the stool. In this situation they do not bind to receptors that start the inflammatory reaction that leads to blocked arteries. And once again they are more likely to be the fluffy less harmful type to begin with.

In upcoming articles, I am going to examine the evidence for the use of fish Oil with statin drugs. Hint: If you must take drugs for your cholesterol adding Fish Oil is of tremendous value!

Here is a reference for those of you who still believe that you need to take high doses of Vitamin E to prevent "Lipid Peroxidation" J. Nutrition 2004 may 134 (5) 1051-7. the title of this article is " A solid dietary fat of Fish Oil redistributes lipoprotein subclasses (makes heavy dense LDL into light fluffy LDL) WITHOUT increasing oxidative stress in man. (in other words NO NEED for increased Vitamin E)!!

Please note that this is a modern journal article not one that was written 20 years ago!

Copyright 2004


Editor's Note:

The FDA has not evaluated all of these statements. This email is for educational purposes only. Always consult your own personal doctor for medical advice and follow it even it contradicts what is said in this article.

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